For our third installment in this important series we bring you 1997’s “Holiday in Your Heart”, starring teenaged LeAnn Rimes as a teenaged singer named LeAnn Rimes, based on the novel of the same name by a teenaged LeAnn Rimes (and some other guy, but who cares about him?). It’s a stirring meditation on family and following your dreams or something like that.
The story begins with the Rimes family band traveling the nation in a beat up old bus, playing second rate venues like high school dances, county fairs and violent, dark honky tonk back rooms, protected from drunken crowds by little more than some thin chicken wire and a thick bouncer named Gus. Okay, maybe just high school dances and county fairs. One day, as the family travels to yet another gig, the angelic voice of none other than LeAnn Rimes comes over the bus radio, which is actually an amazingly 90s-tastic yellow boombox that really takes you back.
The newfound success of the band leads to bigger and bigger gigs and finally an invitation to good ol’ Nashville itself. On their way to play a smaller gig in the city they learn that an act that was to perform at the Grand Ol’ Opry on Christmas day has dropped out, giving LeAnn the opportunity to perform at THE GRAND OL FREAKIN OPRY ITSELF! OH MY GOD I AM LITERALLY FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW!
Ahem. Anyway, LeAnn goes to check out the Opry on Christmas eve and there she meets Faith Shawn, a faded country star played by Bernadette Peters. Shawn drops some knowledge about the Opry on LeAnn and, finding her worthy, offers to take her Christmas shopping that afternoon. They also duet the song Crazy. (Should’ve been a Christmas song, LeAnn. Major missed opportunity to boost the Christmas level of the film and also to save money by not paying for the rights to Crazy. Duh.)
After meeting Shawn, LeAnn gets a phone call that her dear grandmother is having her stomach spells (that’s a medical term) again and is in the hospital, putting LeAnn in the tough position of deciding between grandma and the Opry. Before she can make a decision between the two Shawn picks up LeAnn and they go shopping. Actually, they don’t. Faith drives around like a maniac and takes LeAnn to a pawn shop to teach her a lesson about, I want to say, broken dreams? LeAnn also lets herself be dragged into a sketchy alley where Shawn takes her into an old warehouse full of costumery from the noble past of country music. At this point it becomes clear that LeAnn has been abducted and may die, or at least that’s how I read it.
As LeAnn inches ever closer to her doom at the hands of this madwoman, she finds a diorama of a snow covered Nashville in the warehouse. “But it doesn’t snow in Nashville,” she says. “Oh, but it did that day,” Shawn answers. The next, I don’t know, forty five minutes of the movie, are devoted to a really boring story from Shawn’s past, which, who cares? We came to see LeAnn, gol’ darn it. But it’s here the movie takes a turn into Shawn territory. You see, she left home as a child and her father vowed never to speak to her again. When she found success as a songstress she learned her father was coming to see her in Nashville, and, not wanting to see the man, she split like a banana at an ice cream parlor. Little did she know it was about to snow in Nashville that day, and the Greyhound she was taking slid off the road and got stranded in the snow. There weren’t no one coming for them and that darn bus was getting colder than the heart of a two timing honky tonk succubus. Before she could die of cold, however, Shawn nearly died of insulin shock, what with her being a diabetic and all and her bandmates forgetting her medicine. She’s saved by a kindly old blind man on the bus who shares some of his insulin with her, sacrificing himself in the process, unbeknownst to Shawn. There’s more to the blind guy story but y’all are gonna have to give the film a view if you want to hear it. Can’t ruin everything for you. There’s also a spooky secret about Shawn, aside from the fact that she is a potential kidnapper and probable lunatic.
So, touched by this tale, LeAnn makes her decision to perform at the Opry or go see grandma. I’ll let you decide what happens. All in all I give this movie two out of five eggnogs for its general boringness and sappiness. In terms of Christmasability I give two out of five scented pine cones for having some original songs and minor Christmas related points, but on the whole it doesn’t really revolve around the holiday very much.